Monday, September 20, 2010

Sprague's pipit has to wait in line to make the U.S. Endangered List

photo of Sprague's Pipit courtesy of Wildearth Guardians

When Wildearth Guardians forced the U.S. Government's hands earlier this year by making them consider the Sprague's Pipit for listing, I wondered how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was going to wriggle out of their responsibility. This week we found out. Here is a terrific article in the Montreal Gazette (! why don't we get this kind of writing here in the West?) telling the whole story. And here is an excerpt:

Last week’s long-awaited declaration by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service won’t do much to help the rapidly disappearing Sprague’s pipit, a grassland songbird famous for its elaborate courtship rituals but headed toward extinction as farming, urbanization and petroleum development destroy its traditional habitat.

The problem, said the Washington-based conservation agency, is that while it acknowledges the pipit population has “declined drastically” and needs serious protection, federal wildlife officials are currently too busy saving other species to conduct the studies and hold the meetings necessary to actually get the pipit placed on the U.S. endangered species list.

You can read the official release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service here.

The species by species approach to saving biodiversity is clearly hitting its political and practical limits. Perhaps it's time our governments got down to the real work of inventorying the natural landscapes in their jurisdiction, identifying which ones are most important for conserving biodiversity and then taking the measures necessary to protect their ecological integrity from industry, resource development, and destructive forms of agriculture.

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